Cindy Koepp

Writing on the Edge

Where Did This Story Come from Anyway?

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo was originally "Drug War." It wasn't until Winter 2013 when the publisher and I were working on title ideas that it had a name change, but I think the new name suits it better. Yes, there's a drug company involved and a war going on, and the pun was fun, but there's a bigger tale being told.

Drug War (later Mindstorm) actually got it's start as a result of Lines of Succession, a fantasy novel that will be coming out from Under the Moon as soon as the artwork and stuff gets hammered out.

I'd finished Lines of Succession's first draft ... and didn't like it much. The action scenes, most of which involve rapier combat, were wimpy and glossed over. Very disappointing, really. To fix that, I decided to get some practice. Writing fan fiction is handy for that because the world and the main characters are established. I could focus on the part I needed to focus on.

This was right about the time that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out, and I very much enjoyed the movie. Yes, I know, I'm weird. I actually liked SW I-III better than IV-VI. *gasp* Were they perfect? No. Were there parts I didn't care for? Yes, but I still liked them.

Anyway, I generated some psionic characters to play with and gave them an excuse to interact with the Star Wars characters and wrote my own trilogy. No, I won't share. They're not that good because the plot line was set up specifically so I could practice writing sword combat, so it's a bunch of sword combat with a little plot added in. The second and third are a little better, but still not going to be available for public consumption.

After I finished that little exercise, I came up with some other fun story bits using just the psionic characters I came up with. One of those stories was the original short story "Drug War."

So, after "Drug War" the short story, I finished Lines of Succession and needed to leave that sit for a while. In the meantime, I wanted another project, so I decided to take the short story and expand it into a novel. Many of the short story elements remain in the final version of Mindstorm.

Some notable changes:
Medical student Kayla Argosy became Doctor Calla Geisman.
Sean Zagruder turned into Thomas McCrady, and he became engaged to Meiko Sakamura.

Early feedback on the novel version of Drug War suggested that the interpersonal conflict between Calla and Thomas just wasn't very interesting. Given the plotline, I wasn't sure how to handle that so I set it aside and returned to working on Remnant in the Stars and Lines of Succession.

From time to time, I picked up Drug War again and tried to figure out a way around the problems mentioned in the early feedback. No joy, but I managed a few unrelated tweaks and pitched it to a somewhat loosely structured critique group. One of the authors gave me some end-of-chapter feedback, and I used that for some more tweaking, but since he actually thought it was interesting that the protagonists work together while totally disliking each other, I let that stand.

In the meantime, while waiting for feedback on Drug War, I got a notion for a sequel to the short story and wrote that as well. It will form the basis for the sequel to Mindstorm, but it'll need a lot of mutation to get the Star Wars references out of it. *shrug* That's okay, too.

Then, since that went pretty quickly, I wrote the novella that eventually turned into Urushalon I: Like Herding the Wind, a novel coming out from PDMI Publishing once the artwork and formatting get sorted out.

By the time I finished the draft of Wind Herding, I belonged to another, more organized critique group. Eventually, I pitched Drug War to them. Many of the suggestions I used. Some I did not, but after I made all the corrections I was going to make, I started hunting for a publisher to send it to. I decided on Splashdown Books.

In the summer of 2013, I was visiting my northern parents for a month-ish right about the same time Grace Bridges of Splashdown Books was visiting Chila Woychik of Port Yonder Press. I road tripped out to spend an afternoon with them and received the fabulous news! Grace offered a contract on Drug War ... but she wasn't a fan of the title and suggested we start brainstorming for a new one. Sounded like a plan to me!

So... what's next? There's a sequel to Mindstorm in the works. (Not even a working title yet), and in addition to "Negotiator" in Aquasynthesis Again, there are plans for other short stories in this universe involving these characters.

drug bottle photo credit: Kurt Faler via photopin cc
arguing birds photo credit: TarikB via photopin cc